Democrats press Bureau of Prisons director over staffing shortages

Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) leaves the weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon on Tuesday, September 21, 2021.
Greg Nash

Democratic senators are pressing the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) director to address staffing shortages affecting prisons across the country. 

Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) sent a letter to BOP Director Michael Carvajal on Wednesday requesting information regarding the shortages.

“We have been troubled by reports that employees who are critical to the success of FSA reforms — including psychologists, teachers, unit managers, and medical staff — are regularly reassigned from their traditional assignments to perform correctional duties, such as monitoring showers or escorting inmates during recreational time,” the senators wrote in the letter. 

Ossoff and Durbin are giving the BOP until Nov. 12 to provide staffing reports from the years 2016 to 2021 for all federal prisons under the bureau’s purview, as well as current staffing guidelines and data on  the ratio of inmates to correctional officers. 

“We look forward to working with you to better address staffing shortages at Federal prisons nationwide and for your immediate attention to this request,” the senators said. 

The staffing shortage in the BOP has been coupled with outbreaks of the coronavirus, as hundreds of officers and inmates have been infected over the course of the pandemic. 

The Hill has reached out to BOP for comment.

Tags COVID-19 Dick Durbin Federal Bureau of Prisons federal prisons Jon Ossoff staffing shortages

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